Father Brewer ordained - Catholic Courier

Father Brewer ordained

ROCHESTER — Under ordinary circumstances, he greatly would prefer not to be elevated above others. Yet on this day, Father Mark Brewer was the sole focus for a gathering of several hundred joyful people.

“It’s real now — I was just ordained. But it’s still very humbling,” Father Brewer said June 14 outside Sacred Heart Cathedral. “Even though they called me `Father,’ I’m humbled that they saw me as someone they thought should be ordained to the priesthood.”

Father Brewer’s dad, Jerry, maintains that such modesty is precisely what has endeared Father Brewer to so many.

“Wherever he’s gone, everybody has loved him. He’s been so good to people and now it’s being reflected back to him,” the elder Brewer said.
Early in the liturgy, upon being presented for ordination and going through the election rite with Bishop Matthew H. Clark, Father Brewer turned and bowed to the congregation. That touched off a long round of applause that grew louder and ended with all rising to their feet.

“I’ve been (ordaining priests) for several years, but I don’t ever recall an ovation of that magnitude and duration,” Bishop Clark remarked.

That was just the beginning: a second ovation broke out toward the end of Mass, followed by another when Father Brewer — having been ordained by Bishop Clark — processed back down the aisle. Finally, as the new priest exited the cathedral and paused on the outdoor steps, many of his fellow priests formed a semicircle and offered one more hearty round of applause.
“It’s just very affirming to have all these priests come. I was just amazed that so many came to support me and pray with me,” Father Brewer said.

Among those priests were Father James Jaeger, pastor of four churches in Steuben County, including Father Brewer’s native St. Ann’s Parish in Hornell. The newest diocesan priest has credited Father Jaeger as a key influence in his transition from financial officer at Hornell’s St. James Mercy Hospital — where he worked from 1988-96 — to the seminary.

“Today is a great day, one filled with pride because he’s one of our (Hornell’s) own,” Father Jaeger said. “He’ll make a great priest. He has a lot of caring and love for the people.”

Also in attendance was Father Elmer Schmidt, the longtime St. Ann’s pastor who is now retired. After the other clergy had concluded the ceremonial laying on of hands, Father Brewer went over to Father Schmidt’s wheelchair and knelt before him so his former pastor could bestow that blessing as well.

The ordination was a profound experience for Deacon William Coffas, who read the Gospel during Mass and is due to be ordained to the diocesan priesthood next year. Rather than imagine what his own ordination might be like, Deacon Coffas said he was more caught up in the moment of Father Brewer’s commitment, which he related to John 13:15. In that verse, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet and declares, “You also should do as I have done to you.”

“The whole experience of service … today he’s dedicating his life to the church,” Deacon Coffas remarked.

Father Brewer, 39, began that service almost immediately. On June 15 he celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Ann’s Church; later in the week he began as parochial vicar for St. Mary’s Parish in Canandaigua.

Many family and friends journeyed from Hornell to be at Father Brewer’s ordination; several even chartered a bus. Father Brewer said he also felt the presence of his late mother, Nancy.

“I was thinking about her through the whole thing. During the Gloria, she was singing with us,” Father Brewer said. Nancy Brewer died March 11, nine days after watching her son be ordained a transitional deacon at St. Ann’s Church.

“She’s looking down on us, happy and proud,” Jerry Brewer agreed. He added that his wife had been excited about their son’s ordination even as she approached death. “She kept saying ‘God has been good.'”

On ordination day, he was inclined to agree with that statement.

“God gave me three sons, and one of them to be a priest. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Jerry Brewer said.

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